9 Resources for Problem Solving and 21st Century Skills

Help students problem solve their way through these games and other learning tools.

December 27, 2013
Ellen Holderman
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES In the Classroom, Technology Integration, Tools

It's Top-Pick List Friday! This week, we are featuring games, apps, and websites that teach students great problem solving skills. So many important school, life, and work skills can be taught through games and other engaging tools. With these picks, students can problem solve their way through physics games, sharpen their communication skills, and much more.

To see the most updated version of this list as well as the rating of each app, game, or website, visit the Top Picks List: 


stencyl game

Stencyl provides infinite sandbox-style learning opportunities ranging from game design theory and basic programming to graphic design and student collaboration. It also facilitates digital project-based learning that helps students build career and life skills. Read full review.

faster than light game

FTL: Faster Than Light
FTL: Faster Than Light is a strategic role-playing game, but instead of controlling a person, the player controls a ship and its crew. It's meant to be a hard game, so a fiery wreck is more likely than success, especially early on. Students learn to make difficult decisions about scarce resources as they upgrade their ships. Read full review.

oregon trail app

The Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail is a mobile version of the classic historical simulation game originally designed for PC. Kids lead their family westward across the American frontier by tapping the screen to make choices about the journey. Read full review.

hackasauras website

Hackasaurus - This product is no longer available.
"Gameplay" can get complicated, but with direction and practice this can be a useful tool for teaching computer hacking, which is essentially coding, or re-coding. In addition to teaching coding, Hackasarus encourages deep discussion of fair use and the exploration of revision for bias, mood and tone, and satire as modes of online composition. Read full review.

trainyard app

Trainyard is a train routing puzzle game that's easy to learn but hard to master. The goal: Get the color-coded trains from their outlets to their correct stations. Kids create and test track configurations on a grid background until they find one that works. Read full review.

edmodo website

Edmodo is a full-featured social network designed for the educational environment. It has the look of Facebook, which grabs students' interest, but it also has controls in place to protect their privacy and promote positive interactions among students and between students and teachers.Read full review.

geared 2! app

Geared 2!
This engaging puzzler teaches physics and simple machines. The silly fun and challenging physics of Geared 2! will encourage kids to use logic and strategy to solve each puzzle. As the challenges build and students need to add obstacles, they'll use critical thinking and trial-and-error tests. Read full review.

scratch website

Most of the learning is tacit and supported by classroom teachers helping kids learn to code, a 21st-century skill that's quickly gaining importance. Students can create animations, games, and models that communicate artistry and learning. Read full review.

coaster crafter website

CoasterCrafter - This product is no longer available.
Coaster Crafter is a great tool for teaching students about force and motion. On the whole, it does a great job of using virtual experience to teach somewhat abstract concepts. In Coaster Challenge, students tackle practical problems by dragging and dropping track pieces and modifiers (chain drives for lifting the coaster and lubricant for reducing friction) and testing their ideas. Read full review.


What are games, apps, and websites that you use in the classroom to teach problem solving skills? Sign in to comment below.